Strange as it may sound, but only 33 of 4,67,000 students appearing annual regular High School Certificate examination, which has been postponed following leak of question papers, are differently-abled students from government-run special schools.

Furnishing a reply to a query in the State Assembly on Thursday, School and Mass Education Minister Pratap Jena said altogether 33 students from four government-run special schools functioning in Bhubaneswar and Burla had filled up forms for appearing HSC examination.

Of the total 33 students, 11 students belong to B.B. School for Blind, Bhubaneswar, nine from B. B. School for Deaf, Bhubaneswar, six from Government High School for Blind, Burla and seven from Government High School for Deaf and Dumb, Burla.

Going by the thumb rule that 1.9 per cent constitutes physically challenged population, total number of differently abled students would have been 8,873 (only in 10th standard).

“Although many differently challenged students appear for HSC examinations through National Institute of Open Schooling, representations from government-run special schools should have been significant,” said Sruti Mohapatra, a well-known expert on disability sector.

If one looks at the number of students enrolled in different classes in these special school, the state-of-the-affairs depicts very depressing picture.

Take the example of B. B. School for Deaf, Bhubaneswar, which has the highest enrolment from Class I to X at 115, not more than 10 students could be found in any class. Across all special school, Class IX in B. B. High School for Blind has highest students – 13. Total enrolment in Government High School for Blind at Burla is 42.

Sanyas Behera, former secretary of Odisha Association for Blind, summed up the situation expressively. The “State government has instituted four schools in 1960 and 1972. Till date not more than 410 differently challenged students had appeared annual matriculation examination.